Friday, August 29, 2014

#Author-Intuitive to Flee Calif. for Canadian Adventure

My goal: Quebec City
By Cal Orey
The end of August is here with Labor Day weekend as a finale. Living at Lake Tahoe I admit I don't look forward to this last celebration. Tourists and fireworks irritate me and ruffle my fur kids' temperament. The upside: Off-season and pre-fall are up next so "this is the last weekend" is my mantra to get me through the end of summer crowds.

Looking forward to fall at Tahoe
Enter Pre-Fall... It's the prelude to my fave season of the year. Ironically, I'm preparing like the squirrels to make my departure despite I wait for this time to come.

Will a stronger quake happen before Oct 31?

Last Monday on the 25th I was a News Segment Guest on Coast to Coast. George asked, "Was this the Big One?" in regards to the 6.0 strong and messy Napa earthquake that rocked Northern California and Nevada. My answer: "Probably not." As I told him and listeners from coast to coast. It could cause a trigger effect (like in CA, June 2005 and Ring of Fire 2010/2011) in our Golden State and gave it a two month seismic window. 

Aging is bonding me and Simon
Back at Home...Simon, my 11-year-old Brittany passed the titre test. Translation: He doesn't have to have more doggie shots because his immunity is all good. The cat in my life is back to normal and in my mind used up one of his nine lives. The urinary woes he experienced a month ago has passed and his new prescription food is working like a charm. So for now we are all happy and healthy.The downside: I've run out of excuses to postpone my trip to Quebec. Evidently my dental appointment next week will not affect me going or not. So, it looks like I'm going to Quebec after all life's obstacles.

Hello Montreal!  I wish it was that easy. The thing is, it's not that I'm afraid to go back to Eastern Canada. It's my tiny fear of flying: Not a fan of small plane with too many strangers and dealing with the flight plan made for a survivor reality show contestant. Let's see, it goes like this: Cab, Shuttle Bus, Reno to Utah (super short flight connection), Utah to MN, and then Montreal after 12 hours...then going back home it's Atlanta, Utah, Reno with a long layover in Utah. The trek is a trip in itself. If I were a witch I'd gladly just twitch my nose and put myself in Canada--and in the room with the city view. But it looks like I'm going to have to put my hiking shoes on and be bold before I get my wish and greet Montreal.
Not my room but sort of like it I hope

Every time I leave Tahoe I enjoy returning to the trees

Goodbye Cold Feet... I've watched the spooky films with spook plane scenarios in "Alive" to "Final Destination" one too many times this month. Not sure why I'm doing this but I suppose I want to be prepared even though control is out the window. And, of course, friends and family are sharing their scariest airplane flight--the one where it dropped 1000 feet like a roller coaster. So far, it looks like there is 1 to 2 percent chance of a thunderstorm happening at Tahoe the day I leave. Isolated storms in MN (but don't they usually happen in the afternoon?).An Atlantic tropical storm or hurricane brewing? Too soon to tell. I'm a little squeamish when I think about that jet going from MN to Montreal in dark skies--but I'm caving. I could walk outside--a pine cone could hit my head.

So, for now, I have the annual Pet Horoscopes to complete and psychic networks to work. But soon I will be packing my bags, taking a big jet plane(s) to a faraway land. I'm leaving my fur children, my life as I know it and entering the unknown. And it's starting to get exciting, sort of like a sequel to "Travels with Charley" without the dog and a woman in the air and on the road once again.  I have this fantasy of taking a train from Montreal to Quebec City. With a long-haul flight it may indeed come to fruition--and be different this time around in contrast to when I was the 21-year-old hippie chick frightened in the French speaking province. I vowed I'd go back and that's what I'm setting out to do.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

NorCal 6.0 Quake Forecasted by Author-Intuitive, Sort Of

By Cal Orey

Update: On Coast to Coast AM, this past August 5, as a News Segment guest, I did say on air (at 2:45 minutes) SF could rock any time in the future and anywhere in CA...not excluding SoCal--which still could be next in line before the end of 2014.
Wayward bear tip off to intuitive
who predicted 2007 Bay Area EQ--
history repeats itslf

August 13 · Facebook Wall
Bear alert from yesterday...Earthquake coming in sierras or Bay Area--or hungry bear. Either or. He/she seemed harmless, sweet. Not my house...very close, tho. Not normal for these animals to come so close--didn't seem scared.
On August [12] in the afternoon my two dogs were barking nonstop. I walked out into the living room and looked out the window to see a man taking photos of a bear in our neighborhood. I told him last time this happened a huge crowd of people were watching the animal. The thing is, we don't get a lot of bears at lake level. And I said to the people that an earthquake will hit within the week in the sierras or the SF Bay Area. And it did. (See article below published in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.) History repeats itself.  

In my annual Earth Predictions column for 2014 I wrote: A Mixed Bag of Predictions for 2014
1. Earthquakes
* At least one major shaker is likely on the West Coast, including Alaska, Washington, on and Offshore Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and/or Greater Los Angeles as likely areas to rock.

My 2014 Earth Predictions include a SF Bay
Area significant earthquake
This time, however, as reports come in, the shaker was much stronger  than the Bay Area 5.6 several year ago (October 30, 2007)--and some say even stronger than the Loma Prieta '89 quake geologist Jim Berkland predicted.  This morning the earthquake caused lots of damage and injuries. Another Update: As noted, the wayward animal tipped me off as another bear did in the past. True, bears are part of Lake Tahoe but to be seen at lake level isn't all that common. As felt reports come in, look at how humans report feeling the earth move all around Lake Tahoe. More reports of damage in Napa and more reports of people feeling the earthquake CA/NV--like the one back on October 30, 2007--covered in the Tahoe Daily Tribune...

Did the bear in my neighborhood sense an oncoming earthquake? Is the Sunday early shaker a prelude to the Big One? Time will tell. But on C2C, August 25, I did say I sensed the quake that rocked California could create a trigger effect and SoCal or even NorCal could experience a stronger temblor within the next two months.

Cal Orey

Tahoe author predicts 

Bay Area earthquake 

days in advance 

(Oct. 31, 2007)

A South Lake Tahoe woman who for years has been among a subculture of intuitives who predict and track earthquakes says she 

foresaw Tuesday night's 5.6-magnitude San Jose earthquake in September. And what's more, she documented it just days ago on her 
Web site.
Cal Orey, a writer of several books, including a biography on Bay Area geologist Jim Berkland, who predicted the Loma Prieta 
quake in 1989, says she hit the prediction well ahead of time 
and sees more on the way.
"I believe this was a foreshock. I see a 5.8 to 6.0-plus earthquake that could hit on the Calaveras, Hayward or San Andreas fault
 by Nov. 30," Orey said.
This 5.6 quake is a strong but moderate earthquake, the largest one to hit the Bay Area since Loma Prieta in October 1989. Orey says she was tipped off again a few days ago by the Oct. 26 full moon.
"The tides were erratic," she said. She pinpointed her Oct. 26 prediction at Alum Rock, which was the near-epicenter, east of San Jose.
Also, on Saturday, Orey and her neighbors saw a disoriented bear next door to her house in Bijou Pines.
"In eight years, I've never seen a bear this close to town. I said to the crowd of people taking photos of the animal, 
'This could be due to the Angora fire and the bear is hungry, or a quake is coming here or to the Bay Area in a week.'"
Orey made the prediction Oct. 26 on her Web site.
According to reporting statistics compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was felt all the way to South Lake Tahoe, Tahoma and even Minden and Carson City.
"Historically, the Hayward fault has had larger quakes. And scientists are saying that a 6.0-plus could occur on this fault or the Calaveras fault in the future," Orey says. "I have a wager with geologist Berkland that Northern California will get a 6.0-plus before Southern 
California. I won the last wager for a 5.0, which hit Northern California first. I may win this one, too."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mountain Author Prepares Flight Plan to the City

By Cal Orey

Whew! I'm exhausted. Putting together a flight plan when you live in the mountains and crave going to a city in another country takes work, patience, and a strong stomach! Hitchhiking to Canada was fun--not as challenging. Worse, I haven't even left yet and I'm in need of some rest and relaxation. Here, take a peek at my grueling plans for a vacation-business trek...
Hitchhiking to Montreal with a dog was fun!

First Flight Plan: Customer rep (like a travel agent)  is friendly on the phone and gets to know me: The once adventuresome hippie chick who traveled with a knapsack, sleeping bag and dog who now has a mixed bag of phobias and fears, including flying in small aircraft surrounded by lots of strangers. So, what does the flight guru do? I am put on an economy flight for several hours and left at an Airport Terminal Hotel upon arrival. Yikes! "Twilight Zone" material. Why in world would I want to sleep in a room (if I got there after too many layovers and bumpy flights), and wake up to a view of airplanes? Not my fantasy.
Worse, I scrutinized the small jet (I am now plane size savvy thanks to the Internet) going home via Chicago. Uh, um...isn't that a windy city and a big airport known for not so smooth landings? Why would I want to awake before dawn to do that? True, maybe the wind doesn't kick up till afternoon like our Tahoe thunderstorms but still--I don't like small planes. 
Mountain woman with SF roots fantasizing about Montreal's
architecture, bistros, sights, underground metro

Flight Plan 2: All big planes, first class (so I can put the warm and fuzzy blanket over my head, sip ginger ale or chamomile tea, and listen to Bob Marley to chill). The downside is what I've noted in my last blog post: 1 31 minute tight flight connection from Salt Lake City to MN. If and if I miss this plane (Airbus320) due to fate (MIA pilot to getting lost from Gate B to C) I will be bumped to a little aircraft, demoted to an economy cabin and spend the night somewhere in Minnesota. Minnesota!
If the flight gods allow me to make the flight connection in SLC to MN, I get to take a CRJ900 2 1/2 hours into the dark night. Not my fantasy but they serve a meal so maybe it will be doable without a shake-up? And arriving in Montreal before midnight, praying that my checked bag will be there to pick up and not follow days later...enter my downtown hotel by dawn if the cab driver I choose understands my broken French. 
One more thing: I learned I would be paying for the ghost who would be enjoying the city lights in my paid room. Another glitch... If and when I arrive I was told that my hotel room had been downgraded to no city view for the last three days of my journey...So like what will I see? An alley? Parking Lot? This is not my vision! I am flying 6000 miles, fur kids kenneled, a bizarre trek to be put in a room with nothing to see? No, tell me it's not true!... It's not. 

Change of Plans. Due to two gracious managers of the downtown upscale hotel I selected, today I was blessed to get a room with a city view for my entire stay in Montreal--if and when I arrive. I'm feeling swimming pool, room service for breakfast, hot coffee, steamy bubble baths, a room with a European decor, and French accents all around me in and out... Once rested it's off to explore the foreign province (once again like I did decades ago). While I can see me there to experience...getting back home days later is another traveling adventure that makes me feel like the doomed character in Mr. Bill, the SNL skit of yesteryear.

Up at 4 a.m. (curly hair day) to be at the Montreal airport and grab the Boeing757 to Atlanta (isn't pre-fall hurricane/tropical storm season?). Then, it's back to SLC International via Airbus320 for four hours--a four hour layover. There's a spa...for $40 I can take a shower and pretend I'm home safe and sound in my controlled, cozy home in the sierras. Or, perhaps if I'm not too sleep deprived go to a fancy mall (buy my boys treats) folks rave about. It's back to Reno on another Airbus320 and a three hour wait (gamble while dozing off?) till the shuttle shuttles me home before midnight. Did I say I'm tired? I will have my blue-eyed  Zen kitty waiting for me (how will I sleep each night without my creature comforts, my loving trio?) beloved senior Brittany (provided he passes the titer tests to waiver shots) and young Aussie (never has been left without me for a night) will be picked up the following day. (Another hardship to be away from my boys.)
Zen kitty

So, what I've learned is that when you live in the mountains and want to go to the city out of the country, you have limited options of flight plans and a long haul. Will I still do it? For now, it looks like I might inhale and go for it. It's my vision to go back to Montreal. 
But to be honest, hitchhiking with a dog seemed a lot easier than this planned trip. Thoughts of staying home and buying a stainless steel fridge or rustic hot tub are starting to look better every day. I already miss my demanding fur kids. And I haven't the heart to break the news about mom's "vacation"... I will never leave home again if I survive this trip.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dumping My Comfort Zone for the Thrill of It

By Cal Orey

This is life, and you need not worry,
for you are exactly where you need to be. 
- A D Kruk quotes 

SLC Airport
This morning I woke up with traveling on my mind. After a cup of joe I called the airline and tried once again to change my flight plan. Each time I do this it seems to get more challenging, whether it be getting up at 2:30 am to a layover in Salt Lake City for several hours. So, for some reason, the route I have is meant to be. It is what it is and I've decided to exhale and go with the unknown. 
Plus, I confess I've been watching every airplane disaster film, from "Snakes on a Plane" to "Non-stop" and even "Alive"! Perhaps I'm looking for adventure or I'm a fool; but I'm ready to toss cable TV, computer and forget getting a cellphone. 

Today it hit me. I'm trying to recapture the little girl in me. After all, at 21 I set out for adventure; I was fearless. Hitchhiking across America with a small dog and going north (on a whim) to Quebec was on my agenda. I did it without any "what ifs". I desperately need to get back to that place where I relinquish control and face life face to face. So, if I miss my flight connection--so what? Ironically, while I stress now about it--other challenges await. Baby steps. The funny thing is, the more I plan to make a perfect vacation the more stumbling blocks get in the way. Perfection doesn't exist. It's over-rated. I don't like the woman with phobias that I've become. I crave to go back in time and embrace life without worrying about consequences. It's time.
Adventure may happen anywhere while en route

The flight plan is done. I will not call and try and re-route--this is a challenge in itself. There are only so many routes going from Reno-Tahoe Airport to Quebec. I prefer larger aircraft (another fear) over smaller planes. That phobia probably stems from a book tour to Seattle. When I entered the commuter plane ideal for little people like in The Wizard of Oz--I sensed trouble ahead. Can you spell t-u-r-b-u-l-e-n-c-e?  Women were losing their "fishies" in the airline bags, our pilot talked to us via intercom throughout the "fasten your seatbelt" bumpy flight from hell to Seattle. A man next to me quickly befriended me and talked me through the rough ride, minute by minute. But I survived.

The bottom line: The itinerary is done. No more tweaking. The thing is, while I ponder if a severe thunderstorm will hit Tahoe-Utah a Southeast hurricane or Northeast chill may be the challenge. I cannot control Mother Nature. 
Note to self: Pack bathing suit, jeans, and T-shirt in carry-on just in case my baggage gets lost during the tight 31 minute flight connection. My mantra: "I will end up where I'm supposed to be--wherever that is."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pre-Fall Novelty is Here

By Cal Orey

Fantasy Quebec Trip is Becoming a Reality
Today is Wednesday and it turned out better than I expected.  I get it now that when I wake up (no matter how cold or tired I feel), if I push myself to go swimming/hot tub the day is a good one as it was today. I sense if everyone exercised first thing upon awakening it would be a more balanced world and people would feel better, mind, body and spirit.

My morning oasis
Later, I was notified that The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated is on its way back to me to proof as authors do. Proof pages. This part of writing a book is exciting like getting ready to bring home a new puppy--as I did 1 1/2 years ago. When I look at this photo (left) and at my 50 pound baby now it makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over again. So, yes, getting to the final stages of a book you work on can feel like puppy power, sort of. 

Senior dogs melt my heart, too. This afternoon we took Simon in to have blood work done to see if he is strong enough to be kenneled without unnecessary shots  (when I run away and try and recapture the past in Canada) . We believe he will pass with flying colors. Simon is my Rock--11 years young, a Gemini on the cusp of Taurus is my dear companion. He is a strong canine. The test results will return one to three weeks. Feeling positive about it.  

So, book proofs on their way. Annual Pet Horoscopes due September 1. Weekly Food Column. Monthly Earth Changes column. I can do this. This thing is, while this work load is strong I am anticipating the trip.  It's time I find my groove as I once had when I was in my early 20s-- adventurous, fearless, and a lust for life. Not a penny, just a knapsack, sleeping bag, dog and I managed to hitchhike to Montreal. True, I freaked by the hectic city, French speaking province, metric system, and vowed I'd return as an author, more centered. I'm determined to find my inner child, once again in between bumps on the road. I can do this.

Not much time to learn French (the book arrived), nor to decode Quebec and Quebec City. I've checked the weather forecasts (hurricanes in the south and severe storms in the northeast are up for fall) and it is a bit unsettling to me but I can do this. Tapes of Bob Marley, creative visualization, deep breathing, and repeating four words: "Go with the flow" will get me there and home again. Yes, despite challenges of leaving my fur kids and fears of the unknown spook me but Quebec is still on. This morning I slept in amid my three boys. I woke up happy. A woman in my dream whispered to me that it's going to be a wonderful trip. And that is a good omen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pamper Yourself: A Day in the Life of a Coffee Lover Behind Closed Doors

A Day in the Life of a Coffee Lover at Home

One day a surprise UPS package was sitting on my doorstop. The brown box was filled with BodyCoffee products and a cheat sheet card that came with descriptions of each container, including “Awaken your senses in a whole new way” and “Discover what cultures around the world have known for centuries—the skin healing miracle of coffee.”  Using pre-packaged coffee beauty products (that you can buy online) give you spa coffee treatments right at home. The following is a luxurious one-day spa plan to relax and rejuvenate your body and mind—like I did in the comfort of my home.

7:00 A.M.: Rise and shine. My day starts with being awakened by raccoons or a stray cat outdoors that woke up my Brittany duo. It was time to get up and take them to the trails for their morning walk.  I rinsed my face and washed it quickly the Energizing Body Bar Revitalize. The product claims include, “The intense, dark-hued blend of ground arabica and peppermint extract does much more than cleanse and tone.” Well, still half asleep I admit I was awake and the aroma of the body bar was nice. Wishing I wasn’t a dog lover, just a laid-back cat gal, my sibling and I get a move on with the dogs. Edible coffee is on my mind but I will wait until I return.
 7:30 A.M.: Savor a Cup of Java.  Instead of eating a large meal, I enjoy a European type of feast. Now it’s time for a new flavored coffee. I brew a pot of Cherry Vanilla Crème (made from Columbian Supremo). In a 12 ounce white coffee cup I pour a cup of hot coffee and splashes of 2% low-fat milk. I take the treat back with me (and a homemade bran muffin) and crawl into the warm waterbed. The walked and fed dogs follow. I turn on the tube, and log onto the computer to fetch my morning e-mail. 
8:30 A.M. Coffee Shake It Up. Blend a shake (made with organic low-fat milk, premium coffee ice cream, a teaspoon of espresso powder, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract).   I’m ready to take a long, hot shower. 
10:00 A.M.: Coffee Shower Time.  First, I light a hazelnut coffee scented candle. It creates an aromatherapy environment in my cabin-type bathroom. Next, I spray the Revitalizing Herbal Mist Breathe. It does what is says it will do: “Coffee extract absorbs odors, while essential oils of rosemary, orange, and mint offer a dose of pure refreshment for the body and environment.” I was in heaven believing in the scent of the wonder mist while turning on the shower.
First, I tried the Cleansing Body Wash Enhance. Forget basis soap bars. The words that come with this product convinced me: “Enhance your daily routine with a gentle cleanser for bath or shower. Enriched with antioxidant coffee extract, olive oil and aloe vera, to leave your skin exceptionally soft.” Oh my, it was. I was hooked. After, I tried the Invigorating Body Polish. The product claims convinced me to do it: “Indulge in an exfoliating spa ritual that works wonders on cellulite. With dead sea salt, essential oils and ground coffee, it’s the ultimate body coffee experience.” I may never use my old coffee grounds again.
Once out of the shower and dried off, I couldn’t stop. I grabbed the Hydrating Body Balm Soothe. The directions told me it can “Sooth dry skin with a Native American recipe thousands of years old—a nourishing infusion of antioxidant coffee extract and hemp seed oil. My body felt rejuvenated and super soft—ready for the day.
12:30 P.M. Time to Get a Move On.  It’s time for the treadmill (usually it’s a swim). I eat one chocolate coffee truffle and walk/run for about 20 minutes.  This isn’t as fun as swimming but it still provides those feel-good endorphins—and turning on the tunes helps to get into the zone.
1:30 P.M.: Eat a Healthful Lunch. I dish up a fresh egg salad sandwich with tomatoes, and spinach lettuce on whole grain bread toast. Afterward, I try a store bought iced coffee. It’s not my fantasy but maybe it takes time to get used to it. Or, making my own may be key. 
2:00 P.M.: Let the Dogs Outside.  Once back–drink a glass of spring water (or two) – and turn to Moisturizing Body Lotion Surround. Living in the mountains at Lake Tahoe reminds me that we don’t have a lot of humidity. That means dry skin. So, I tried the lotion on my hands. Again, the product says “The scent of nature’s own aphrodisiac, coffee blossom essence™ , coffee extract, shea butter and healing herbs leave skin more supple and positively glowing. I use it on my arms and elbows for the effect of it all.
3:00  Go to Work. I prefer going to the laptop for articles, desktop for books. Time spent—three hours. Thinking about the Javabalm™ SPF 15 Lip Balm, I put it on my lips. Note to self: Do this every day.
6:00  Eat a Coffee-Rich Dinner.  Now that my mind is taxed, it’s time to feed my body like spa guests who are provided with awesome spa recipes. Tonight it’s the coffee-style chicken. (Check out the entrees in the recipes, refer to “Chapter 18.”)
7:00 P. M.: Give Myself a Foot Massage. When I finished dinner, I pampered myself with a foot massage. I tried the Energizing Body Oil Discover and it did what the product words said it would do: “Discover the therapeutic benefits of coffee. Our blend of essential oils (mint, rosemary and citrus) and caffeine sooths aching muscles, improves micro-cellular circulation.” (It also helps reduce the appearance of cellulite, or so it’s supposed to do that. I’ll settle for soothing aches and pains.)
9:30 P. M.:  Coffee Break.  It’s time to watch a film. I cuddle up with Zen cat, Simon and Seth, my beloved Brittanys. I treat myself to a half cup of all-natural premium coffee ice cream.
12:30 A.M.: My thoughts are on autumn, when coffee beans are harvested. It’s a time when I get ready for the mountain seasonal change (raking pine needles to ordering wood and stocking the pantry). Coffee—good coffees, all kinds, all flavors—are a welcome addition to my favorite season. It’s a time to clean, a time to bake—and coffee can provide the energy to keep on moving.
            Whatever season it is or wherever you live, a coffee exfoliating mask will rejuvenate your facial skin and you’ll feel good both inside and outside. Try this do-it-yourself recipe and enjoy the aroma of a cup of java.
Excerpted from The Healing Powers of Coffee.
— Cal Orey, M.A.  is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Coffee was featured by One Spirit and the Good Cook Book clubs.) 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pre-Fall Breakfast for You or (Your) Honey

When I migrated to Tahoe, the first fall was a big change with leaves changing color, pine cones, busy squirrels, plus colder nights minus vegetables growing on the sides of the roads.  One morning I made quickie frozen waffles teamed with generic syrup. It was quick as I geared up for the first snow, buying a cord of wood and learning to make a fire,  and swimming outdoors in a snow flurries. I felt like I was in a foreign land. It was autumn on the south shore and I fell in love with the season.

These days, I love being in the kitchen, feeling pre-fall and anticipating the first days of seasonal change. This morning  I brewed a pot of flavored vanilla coffee, and put together honey waffles from scratch.  Getting the ingredients together was easy —and so was watching the batter turn into waffles.

Honey Waffles
* * *
1 cup whole wheat  flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
2 organic  brown eggs
3 tablespoons honey 

Premium maple syrup or honey
European style butter
Confectioners’ sugar
Fresh summer berries

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and spices. In smaller bowl stir eggs and honey.  Pour into dry ingredients. Mix well. Turn on nonstick waffle iron.  Pour half batter onto iron. Wait till steam rises. Top with confectioners’ sugar, a small pat of real butter and drizzle with syrup. Makes 2 waffles. (Double the recipe for friends and family.)

These waffles are so easy to make, not to ignore the fact they are easy on the budget (except for syrup—go for all natural).  The second waffle turned out picture perfect.  It was simple to remove from the waffle iron and a joy to plate. I felt like a proud mom giving birth to a waffle.  I dusted it with powdered sugar reminding me that fall is around the corner. I'm feeling the coming of fall.

For more honey-related recipes check out The Healing Powers of Honey--part of the Healing Powers Series.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Chocolate on the Brain

By Cal Orey
I should have a musette full of chocolate. These I should 
distribute with a kind word and a pat on the back.
Ernest Hemingway

I woke up this a.m., with chocolate on my mind. Actually, the last time I enjoyed a chocolate affair was a few weeks ago. It was a scoop (okay, more than one) of all-natural chocolate ice cream that sweetened my life. As I noted in my last post, pre-fall is in the air. For some reason, we feel the seasonal changes sooner in the sierras. The squirrels are everywhere as are droppings of pine cones. So, raking this weekend is on my agenda as well as chocolate. These are sweet signs of autumn...

I have fond memories of chocolate mousse. In my early thirties, I was in a long-term relationship with a video engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area who was trying to reignite the flame in our love life, and he sailed the full nine yards--planning unforgettable surprises to court me, again. Yes, it included coffee and chocolate.

He set out on his new 27-foot sailboat to Benicia. I joined him later in the artsy town at The Union Hotel, a romantic getaway with 12 rooms. Our refuge was coined Coast Lotus, an upstairs charming suite with a large window view of the bay. The hotel room with European touches included a spacious private bathroom with a Jacuzzi for two. Early in the evening, he surprised me with a room service treat: hot espresso and Dutch chocolate mousse. The entire event was an event to cherish for life--especially the tub, chocolate, and coffee trio.

A cuppa coffee and chocolate go together like a man and woman in love. Like wine, espresso, lattes, and chocolate are popular in Italy. Tuscany, known as a hot chocolate spot, is a place countless people enjoy coffee and chocolate, which can be healing for the body, mind, and spirit. (No, we didn't reunite, despite the chocolate romantic adventure.) But I got my own mousse recipe refined years later.

As I prepare for an overdue European-style trip in Quebec, I chose the egg-less no cook method. Instead of dark chocolate (my preference), by accident I purchased milk chocolate. But it was an omen. It made the mousse chocolaty enough for a limited palate and the sophisticated chocolatarians. I used heavy whipping cream—not the creamy ready-made fluff in the plastic container. The extra effort of whipping it is worth the time and trouble.

 Chocolat Mousse 

* * *
1 cup premium all natural milk chocolate chips, 31% cacoa
½ cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons European style butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream    
1 capful pure vanilla extract
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
Extra whipped cream (for topping)
Chocolate shavings (grated dark or milk chocolate chips)
Strawberries, sliced (optional)

In a bowl pour one cup of chocolate chips. Place in microwave and melt. (Keep a close watch on it. Do not overcook. Stir until smooth.) Set aside. In another bowl, combine butter and milk. Microwave until butter is melted. Cool. Mix into chocolate. (At first it will look lumpy but stir and it will turn creamy and smooth.) Sprinkle with cinnamon. Set aside. In a chilled mixing bowl pour whipping cream. Mix on high until it is a thick, creamy texture. (Warning: This can take a while.) Add vanilla and sugar (it does need the sweet flavor). Fold ½ cup into chocolate. Add the rest and stir until it’s a superb chocolate creamy mousse. Pour into ramekins or small glasses. Place in refrigerator for 3 hours to firm. Top with whipped cream. Garnish which chocolate shavings and berries.  Serves approximately 4.

More stories and recipes in the timeless book The Healing Powers of Chocolate.